G.R. No. 201834, June 01, 2016
ANDRES L. DIZON, Petitioner, v. NAESS SHIPPING PHILIPPINES, INC. AND DOLE UK (LTD.), Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari filed by petitioner Andres L. Dizon assailing the Decision1 dated February 28, 2012 and Resolution2 dated May 9, 2012 of the Court of Appeals (CA) which affirmed the Decision3 and Resolution dated October 30, 2009 and February 26, 2010, respectively, of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) which declared respondents Naess Shipping Phils. Inc. and DOLE UK (Ltd.) not liable to pay petitioner the amount of US$66,000.00 for disability benefits and medical expenses.
The antecedents are:
Since 1976, respondents Naess Shipping Phils. Inc. and DOLE UK (Ltd.) hired petitioner Andres L. Dizon as cook for its various vessels until the termination of his contract in 2007.4
On March 6, 2006, Dizon was hired as Chief Cook and boarded DOLE COLOMBIA under the following terms and conditions:5
Dizon disembarked after completing his contract on February 14, 2007. He then went on a vacation, and was called for another employment contract after a month.6
Contract Duration : 9 months Position : Chief Cook Basic monthly salary : US$670.00 Hours of work : 44 hours/week Overtime : US$373.00 GOT in excess of 85 hours US$4.3 8/hour US$5.01/hour in excess of 90 hours Vacation leave with pay : 9 days/month Point of hire : Manila
Abnormal Stress Fxhocardiography at 10.2 MFTS with evidence of stress-inducible ischemic myocardium at risk involving the left anterior descending and right coronary artery territories.11ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryUnconvinced with the doctor's declaration of unfitness, Dizon went to the Seamen's Hospital and submitted himself for another examination.12
WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered ordering Naess Shipping Phils. Inc. and/or DOLE UK (Ltd.). jointly and severally, to pay complainant Andres L. Dizon the Philippine peso equivalent at the time of actual payment of US DOLLARS SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS (US$60,000.00) representing permanent total disability benefits, plus ten percent (10%) thereof as and for attorney's fees or the aggregate amount of US DOLLARS SIXTY SIX THOUSAND (US$66,000.00).On appeal, the NLRC reversed and set aside the decision of LA for finding that Dizon did not comply with the mandatory post-employment medical examination within three working days upon arrival.27 The NLRC held that Dizon failed to prove through substantial evidence that his working conditions increased the risk of contracting coronary artery disease. The fallo of the decision reads:
All other claims are dismissed for lack of merit.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is GRANTED. The Decision of the Labor Arbiter declaring Nacss Shipping Phils. Inc. and/or DOLE UK (Ltd.) jointly and severally liable to pay Andres L. Dizon US Dollars Sixty Six Thousand Pesos (US$66,000.00) is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. However, for humanitarian considerations, taking into account complainant's unblemished record of thirty (30) years of service to respondents, the latter are hereby directed to pay Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) financial assistance to complainant.Aggrieved, Dizon assailed the NLRC's reversal of the LA's decision before the CA through a petition for certiorari. The CA denied the petition and affirmed the decision of the NLRC. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The October 30, 2009 Decision and the February 26, 2010 Resolution of the Public Respondent National Labor Relations Commission are AFFIRMED.Upon denial of his motion for reconsideration, Dizon filed before this Court the present petition raising the following issues:
Simply, the issue to be resolved is whether the petitioner is entitled to disability benefits.
- THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERRORS OF LAW IN RULING THAT PETITIONER IS NOT ENTITLED TO DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR. FAILURE TO REPORT WITHIN 72 HOURS FROM HIS REPATRIATION.
- THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS QUESTION OF LAW IN RULING THAT THE ILLNESS OF THE PETITIONER IS NOT WORK RELATED DESPITE NOT HAVING FACTUAL NOR MEDICAL BASIS.
- THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMITTED SERIOUS ERRORS AMOUNTING TO GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN NOT AWARDING MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES AS WELL AS ATTORNEY'S FEES.
Section 20-B. Compensation and Benefits for Injury or Illness. —The law specifically declares that failure to comply with the mandatory reporting requirement shall result in the seafarer's forfeiture of his right to claim benefits thereunder.33 In Coastal Safeway Marine Services, Inc. v. Esguerra,34 this Court expounded on the mandatory reporting requirement provided under the POEA-SEC and the consequence for failure of the seaman to comply with the requirement, viz.:
The liabilities of the employer when the seafarer suffers work-related injury or illness during the term of his contract are as follows:
x x x x
3. Upon sign off from the vessel for medical treatment, the seafarer is entitled to sickness allowance equivalent to his basic wage until he is declared fit to work or the degree of permanent disability has been assessed by the company-designated physician but in no case shall this period exceed one-hundred twenty (120) days.
For this purpose, the seafarer shall submit himself to a post-employment medical examination by a company-designated physician within three working days upon his return except when he is physically incapacitated to do so, in which case a written notice to the agency with the same period is deemed as compliance. Failure of the seafarer to comply with the mandatory reporting requirement shall result in his forfeiture of the right to claim the above benefits.
If a doctor appointed by the seafarer disagrees with the assessment, a third doctor may be agreed jointly between the Employer and the seafarer. The third doctor's decision shall be final and binding on both parties.
x x x
The foregoing provision has been interpreted to mean that it is the company-designated physician who is entrusted with the task of assessing the seaman's disability, whether total or partial, due to either injury or illness, during the term of the hitter's employment. Conccdedly, this does not mean that the assessment of said physician is final, binding or conclusive on the claimant, the labor tribunal or the courts. Should he be so minded, the seafarer has the prerogative to request a second opinion and to consult a physician of his choice regarding his ailment or injury, in which case the medical report issued by the latter shall be evaluated by the labor tribunal and the court, based on its inherent merit. For the seaman's claim to prosper, however, it is mandatory that he should be examined by a company-designated physician within three days from his repatriation. Failure to comply with this mandatory reporting requirement without justifiable cause shall result in forfeiture of the right to claim the compensation and disability benefits provided under the POEA-SEC.35ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryMoreover, that the three-day post employment medical examination is mandatory brooks no argument, as held in Interorient Maritime Enterprises, Inc. v. Creer:36
The rationale for the rule [on mandatory post-employment medical examination within three days from repatriation by a company-designated physician] is that reporting the illness or injury within three days from repatriation fairly makes it easier for a physician to determine the cause of the illness or injury. Ascertaining the real cause of the illness or injury beyond the period may prove difficult. To ignore the rule might set a precedent with negative repercussions, like opening floodgates to a limitless number of seafarers claiming disability benefits, or causing unfairness to the employer who would have difficulty determining the cause of a claimant's illness because of the passage of time. The employer would then have no protection against unrelated disability claims.37ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryIn the past, this Court repeatedly denied the payment of disability benefits to seamen who failed to comply with the mandatory reporting and examination requirement.38 Thus, the three-day period from return of the seafarer or sign-off from the vessel, whether to undergo a post-employment medical examination or report the seafarer's physical incapacity, should always be complied with to determine whether the injury or illness is work-related.39
x x x xFor disability to be compensable under Section 20 (B) of the 2000 POEA-SEC, two elements must concur: (1) the injury or illness must be work-related; and (2) the work-related injury or illness must have existed during the term of the seafarer's employment contract.45 It is not sufficient to establish that the seafarer's illness or injury has rendered him permanently or partially disabled; it must also be shown that there is a causal connection between the seafarer's illness or injury and the work for which he had been contracted.46
6. In case of permanent total or partial disability of the seafarer caused by either injury or illness the seafarer shall be compensated in accordance with the schedule of benefits enumerated in Section 32 of this Contract. Computation of his benefits arising from an illness or disease shall be governed by the rates and the rules of compensation applicable at the time the illness or disease was contracted. x x x
Work-related illness, as defined in the 2000 POEA-SEC, is any sickness resulting to disability or death as a result of an occupational disease listed under Section 32-A of this contract with the conditions set therein satisfied.47
- The seafarer's work must involve the risks described herein;
- The disease was contracted as a result of the seafarer's exposure to the describefd] risks;
- The disease was contacted within a period of exposure and under such other factors necessary to contract it; [and]
- There was no notorious negligence on the part of the seafarer.
As can be gleaned from the above provision, it is incumbent upon the seafarer to show that he developed the cardiovascular disease under any of the three conditions to constitute the same as an occupational disease for which a seafarer may claim compensation.48
- if the heart disease was known to have been present during employment, there must proof that an acute exacerbation was clearly precipitated by the unusual strain by reasons of the nature of his work.
- The strain of work thai brings about an acute attack must be sufficient severity and must be followed within 24 hours by the clinical signs of cardiac insult to constitute causal relationship.
- If a person who was apparently asymptomatic before being subjected to strain at work showed signs and symptoms of cardiac injury during the performance of his work and such symptoms and signs persisted, it is reasonable to claim a causal relationship.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Florito S. Macalino, with Associate Justices Remedios A. Salazar-Fernando and Ramon M. Bato, Jr., concurring; rollo, pp. 25-30.
2Id. at 33-34.
3 Penned by Presiding Commissioner Gerardo C. Nograles, with Commissioners Perlita B. Velasco and Romeo L. Go, concurring; CA rollo, pp. 32-39.
4Rollo, p 26.
5Id. at 6-7.
6Supra note 4.
7 CA rollo at 34.
8Id. at 44.
10Id. at 33.
11Id. at 65.
12Supra note 7.
15Id. at 35.
16Id. at 111-112.
17Supra note 8.
19Id. at 68.
20Supra note 8.
21Supra note 7.
23 Penned by Labor Arbiter Vencranda V. Guerrero, id. at 43-50.
24Id. at 47.cralawred
26Id. at 59-50.cralawred
27Id. at 37.
28Supra note 3, at 39.
29Supra note 1, at 30.
30Rollo, p. 11.
31Austria v. Crystal Shipping, Inc., G.R. No. 206256, February 24, 2016.
32 Department Order No. 4, series of 2000, "Amended Standard Terms and Conditions Governing the Overseas Employment of Filipino Seafarers On-Board Ocean-Going Vessels."
33Ceriola v. Naess Shipping Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 193101, April 20, 2015
34 G.R. No. 185352, August 10, 2011, 671 Phil. 56-70.
35Id. (Citation omitted; emphasis supplied)
36 G.R. No. 181921, September 17, 2014.
37Id. (Emphasis supplied)
38Jebsens Maritime. Inc. v. Undag, G.R. No. 191491, December 14, 2011, 678 Phil. 938-951.
39Supra note 33.cralawred
40Rollo, p. 14.
41Id. at 15.
42Id. at 16.
43Transmarine Carriers, Inc. v. Aligway Phil., G.R. No. 201793, September 16, 2015.
45Supra note 31. (Kmphasis supplied).
48Bautista v. Elburg Shipmanagement Philippines, Inc., G.R. No. 206032, August 19, 2015.
49Supra note 32.